Soviet Young Pioneers: Levels

Figure 1.-- Tese are some of the younger Pioneers--the Children of October or Octoberists. Notice the red scarves that they are wearing. I'm not sure what the occassion was here. Perhaos it is a school class portrait. (The Pioneers were a school-based program.)

Personal advancement in the Soviet Union required membership in the Communist Party. Carreer advancements were sigbnificantly affected by Party membership. Opportunities You couldn't become a member of the KPSU until you were old enough, but there were other groups or clubs that were created for children and teenagers to participate in and to train for future party membership. The Young Pioneers were an important part of this. And a good record in the Pioneers was importnt to gain access to university education. There were three different levels to the Communist youth movement. The first was the Children of October, the youngest Pioneer level. Next was the main Young Pioneer group. After graduating from the Pioneers, a select group of ideloically committed teenagers, or at least teenagers who appeared to accept the regime's ideology, were selected to the Komsomol.

Children of October

The first youth group that children could join was the Children of October. The group was of course named after the 1917 Communist Revolution that created the Soviet Union. Here there is some confusion because the Russians were still using the old calendar. Thus depending on the calendar the Revolution took place in October/November. This youngerv children are also often called the "The Ocroberists". The Children of October were children from 8 to 10 years old. Another source reports children 6-10 years. Both boys and girls joined the group. It was a mass organization with membership virtually mandatory. The children received an Octoberist badge. It was made out of aluminum and enamel with a pin-back. It was worn by Octoberists on the left side of the chest. It had the image of Lenin as a child. We note Octoberist induction ceremoies.

Young Pioneers

The next and most popular Soviet youth group was the Young Pioneers. The Pioneers were for boys and girls from the ages 10 to 14/15. It was similar in some ways to Boy or Girl Scouts, but had a clear ideological message. Pioneers were taught about Lenin and other famous communists and were encouraged to support the government and the CPSU. Each school had its pioneer organization and almost every young student in the Soviet Union was a member. The Pioneers were part of the Soviet system to thoroughly indocrinate the children. In that regards the Pioneers were similar to the Hitler Youth, but without the central theme of racial and national superiority. Also the coeducational Pioneer program was less involved in para-military training. The CPSU used the Pioneers as one part of their overall indocination program complementing school programs. The NAZIs on the other hand had less confidence in the school system, especially in the first years of the regime and as a result the Hitler Youth played a more important role in Germany than the Pioneers in the Soviet Union. Pioneers were taught about Lenin and other famous communists and were encouraged to support the government and the CPSU. Each school had its pioneer organization and almost every young student in the Soviet Union was a member. The program was completely financed by the Government, including the cost of summer camps and other activities. This is virtually all I know about the Pioneers and have been unable to find much additional information, but am seeking additional information.

All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League (Komsomol)

After graduating from the Pioneer, the next level was the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League (Vsesoiuznyi Leninskii kommunisticheskii soiuz molodezhi--Komsomol). Here the Soviers were more selective. Not everyone was expected to join the Komosol. And young people were selected for membership. The Komosol was theoretically composed of ideloically committed teenagers. Some indeed were. Others were teenagers who accepted Communist ideology, seeing the Komosol as important for career advacement. The Komosol was administered by the Communist Party (CPSU). Teenagers and youth between ages 14-28 years participated. The CPSU established the Komosol only a few moths after the Revolution (1918). The Komosol was established to assist the Party prepare next generation of leaders. They would supply the elite of Soviet society. The Komosol promoted Marxism-Leninism ideology. It involved young people in major state projects such as factory construction and the virgin land campaign. Members were expected to be politically active, committed Marxists, and vigilant for individuals who were desloyal. Besides political study and hard work, membership carried privileges with it, especially opportunities for university education and preferential treatment in career advancement.


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Created: 2:51 AM 6/16/2008
Last updated: 4:39 PM 6/18/2008